Current-induced spin polarization at the surface of metallic films: a theorem and an ab initio calculation

Physical Review B 91, 035403 (2015)

Current-induced spin polarization at the surface of metallic films: a theorem and an ab initio calculation

I. V. Tokatly, E. E. Krasovskii, G. Vignale

The broken inversion symmetry at the surface of a metallic film (or, more generally, at the interface between a metallic film and a different metallic or insulating material) greatly amplifies the influence of the spin-orbit interaction on the surface properties. The best known manifestation of this effect is the momentum-dependent splitting of the surface state energies (Rashba effect). Here we show that the same interaction also generates a spin-polarization of the bulk states when an electric current is driven through the bulk of the film. For a semi-infinite jellium model, which is representative of metals with a closed Fermi surface, we prove as a theorem that, regardless of the shape of the confinement potential, the induced surface spin density at each surface is given by S=−γℏz×j, where j is the particle current density in the bulk, z the unit vector normal to the surface, and γ=ℏ4mc^2 contains only fundamental constants. For a general metallic solid γ becomes a material-specific parameter that controls the strength of the interfacial spin-orbit coupling. Our theorem, combined with an {\it ab initio} calculation of the spin polarization of the current-carrying film, enables a determination of γ, which should be useful in modeling the spin-dependent scattering of quasiparticles at the interface.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevB.91.035403
arxiv
http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.3693

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